Women on Their Own Face Financial Challenges
That was the headline of an e-article I received last week. And that was the beginning of my computer search through several very interesting web-sites about women and their financial health.
One of the most interesting was called wife.org. The name intrigued me so I went there and found wife stands for Women’s Institute for Financial Education – now that’s a subject near and dear to my heart. I don’t have a lot of time to cruise websites. This one yielded some gold in the concept of money clubs. You’ve heard of investment clubs – and if you’ve ever been in one you probably know that they revolve around researching and buying stocks – and – from what most members tell me, losing money on the investments.
Money clubs are small groups of women (would guys do this? I don’t know.) who know each other and get together weekly or monthly to talk about money issues – not just investing. Fact is most issues about money do not involve investing – which is why you need a financial planner and not just a broker – in fact, how to pick a planner is one of the money club discussion topics.
Women in the clubs share their insights, problems, questions, victories and defeats. The members encourage and share their wealth of knowledge and research with each other. How awesome is that?! A non-threatening environment talking about money with people who are not trying to sell you something!
Each session has an organized and detailed agenda with questions for discussion, information, quizzes and some fun activities. Want to know more? Listen in this week as we survey some of the money club topics – and then e-mail me if you’d like more information about starting a club of your own.
What are some of the unique financial problems faced by women today?
Women on their own do not fit common stereotypes. What if you are not alone? Should you be interested in this? Statistics tell us that 90% of women will be on their own with their finances for some period in their life. 90% is pretty high odds.
And if you caught Planning Sense the past few weeks you heard me talk about three women with financial problems – do you remember? If not, go to planningsense.com and review the radio text there.
Two were wives and one was single. The single woman wanted to retire in two years and while she had a nice chunk of assets, they weren’t enough to support her lifestyle. The other two women had relied entirely on their husband to handle the finances. One had already had a rude awakening that their budget and resources did not match up. The other woman still does not know that she’s in trouble. The husband took a full pension – she’s not included – and he will not discuss their asset status - but I’ve seen the tax return. Unless the money is buried in the back yard or in IRAs, the assets are very small. This lady is in for a rude awakening.
There are individuals and couples who have substantial assets and have done a really good job over the years. Their biggest challenge is asset protection and just finding out how long the money will last at their current spending rate. But in many couple situations, only one of them – typically the husband, but not always - knows about the finances and the other – typically the wife - does not. This puts her at an extreme disadvantage when she is someday on her own – remember 90% of women will be – and has to take a crash course in finance.
Learning about it now, in small bites is so much easier. That’s why I think this money club idea is excellent.
Women on their own head up 17.7 million households – these are women who are not married or living with a partner.
That’s a lot of women. 72% of these women are under the age of 65. The Fed data tells us that women have less income and less resources than the national average. 41% of women on their own are in the bottom fifth of the income strata. The median income of women on their own in 2001 was $20,000 as opposed to $39,000 for all American households.
Living on the edge – 53% of female households spend all or more than all their income. 41% of all household heads spend all or more than all their income. These are the retired poor of the future.
32% of solo women save regularly, 30% do not save at all. And it isn’t that they can’t save. It goes back to attitude and the choices we make because of it. Not living within our means is an attitude of entitlement problem – or for some it’s just a lack of budgeting.
Would you trust a credit card company to teach you how to be a good consumer? If so visit www.practicalmoneyskills.com . Learn about budgeting, banking and identity theft. There are financial guides for marriage, divorce, buying a home – even planning the family vacation.
If you want to learn about setting up and emergency fund, go to www.americasaves.org. America saves is a campaign begun in 2001 to help non-savers learn to save and build wealth. You can’t build wealth if you have credit card debt. You can’t get out of debt unless you have an emergency fund. You can’t have an emergency fund unless you save one – so learning to save is the beginning of your financial success.
We need to talk about the Money Club concept.
Here’s a well worded concept I picked up off the web-site. A man is not a financial plan. Both in finances and relationships, women shortchange themselves by buying into the Cinderella, Snow White stories (and their modern day romance novel version) that the perfect someone will arrive to rescue us. Or maybe we think the lottery is an investment vehicle or investing in risky ventures will get us financial security. Probably everyone thinks of financial rescue at sometime in their lives. Life weight us down – or we haven’t gotten started in a career and we’re wishing we’d played the lottery and won. Except that people who don’t have good financial attitudes and skills who come into a lot of money through the lottery or a windfall investment of an inheritance – find it ruins their lives.
You are the artist that shapes your life. You have to start with a vision of what you want it to be – and then figure out the steps – including hard work - needed to get there.
Problem with that is most people don’t have a clue what it takes. That’s why the money club concept is so exciting. Sitting with a group of friends and talking about money issues can give you the outside motivation and information you need to change the course of your financial life. If you have substantial assets, it can give you import knowledge on asset protect and tax reduction strategies that will help your money last as long as you do.
Here are a couple of topics from the bi-weekly discussion in a typical money club. The Money Zone – attitudes from your childhood that are affecting you today. Small steps – things you can do in 15 minutes a day or less to get your financial life on the right road. 21 day money makeover – you can set up your e-mail to receive a daily thing to do for 21 days to get out of debt.
Did you join that investment club to learn about investing – or did you really want to learn about money?
A money club discussion group can help you have fun while you learn. Here’s a typical session agenda:
What do you think? Does this sound like a fun way to learn about money?
There are no money clubs in Central NY according to the web-site. But they can’t be that hard to set up. I’ll help you if you want, or just go to the web-site www.moneyclubs.com, register and read the site. Then get a group of friends together and see what happens.
The first meeting is about money attitudes from childhood. We all have these old tapes playing in our brain about money and relationships and who knows what else. If the old tapes are holding you back, this is just the ticket to change direction and become financially successful and secure.